Virtually all dermatologists agree on two things: The importance of sunscreen and antioxidants. But simply slathering a bunch of vitamins on your skin isn’t enough, and there are a few key points to remember when treating your skin to extra environmental protection.
1. Not all vitamin Cs are created equal. There are many ingredients derived from vitamin C, including ascorbyl glucosamine, ascorbyl palmitate, ester-C and more. The most effective form of vitamin C is L-ascorbic acid, but in order to maintain its potency and penetrate the skin it must be formulated at a low, acidic pH. Unfortunately this may cause stinging for those with sensitive skin, but Jan Marini uses a unique form of vitamin C that eliminates this problem without sacrificing effectiveness. In addition to Jan Marini, vitamin C products from La Roche Posay and SkinCeuticals are the best options because they are formulated correctly.
2. Be cautious mixing antioxidants with other ingredients. Alpha-hydroxy acids break down antioxidants, so don’t apply them at the same time. If you use an antioxidant in the morning, save your AHA products for nighttime. Many ingredients will inactivate your antioxidants, so the order that you apply skincare products is very important.
3. The more the merrier. Antioxidants work better when you mix a few of them together and that you should get them in different forms, including food, supplements and skincare. Just like it’s best to make a salad with many different vegetables, treat your skin to a variety of antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, feverfew, idebenone and green tea.
4. Antioxidants do more than fight free radical damage. In addition to protecting your skin from the environment, vitamin C also boosts collagen production and fades excess pigment. Feverfew (found in Aveeno’s Ultra Calming Line) is a wonderful anti-inflammatory so it makes a great anti-aging ingredient for those with rosacea.
5. Some antioxidants are stronger than others. Antioxidants have an ORAC value that shows just how concentrated or potent they are. Idebenone and coffeeberry have very high ORAC values, but using a variety of antioxidants is most effective for the skin.
6. The newest names to know. Argan oil and oxofullerane are two relatively unknown antioxidants that are getting a lot of attention these days. Pure argan oil can be used on the hair and skin from head to toe. Combray is one of the only skincare products that contain oxofullerane. Resveratrol is also relatively new to skincare, but the research is promising.
Dr. Leslie Baumann is a board-certified dermatologist and CEO of Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute in Miami.